Commemoration of the victims of the Paris terrorist attack Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

France’s Model of Resilience to Terror

In France this year, the second anniversary of the November 2015 Paris attacks was a subdued affair, and not just out of respect for those still living with the trauma. France, unlike others in the West, has managed to avoid panic and social divisiveness, even as it has taken far-reaching steps to defend itself against the threat of terrorism.

PARIS – In a recent tweetstorm, US President Donald Trump shared anti-Muslim smears from the extreme-right hate group Britain First, thus reminding us of the deep divisions and fears that terrorism has injected into Western democracies.

But not everyone responds to terrorist attacks with the atavism of Trump or Britain First. Take France, where on November 13, 2015, Islamic State (ISIS) militants carried out terror attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris. Although 130 people were murdered – more than in any other episode of violence against civilians in France since World War II – France’s commemoration of the second anniversary was extremely subdued.

French authorities, it seems, wanted to avoid reawakening the painful trauma of the event. That trauma is a very real fact of life for the families who lost a loved one, and are permanently devastated, and for the survivors, whose experience has received little attention.